Canelo Alvarez, just a few days removed from settling a breach of contract lawsuit with DAZN that brought to an end his exclusive association with the sports streaming service, the Mexican superstar could wind up fighting again on the service in his next fight.
Alvarez, boxing’s biggest star, is in negotiations to fight super middleweight world titlist Callum Smith in December at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where there would be a limited number of spectators allowed.
“Talks are ongoing with Team Canelo and it would be an honor to reach an agreement on this tremendous fight with Callum Smith,” Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, Smith’s promoter, told BoxingScene on Wednesday night.
The fight would be either Dec. 18 or Dec. 19, although having it on Dec. 19 might be complicated since the stadium would have to be changed over to its football configuration quickly with the Dallas Cowboys scheduled host the San Francisco 49ers the following night.
A source involved with Alvarez confirmed that they were in talks for the fight but stressed that “nothing is done, there’s a lot on the table. No deal is done.”
If a deal with Hearn for Alvarez to face Smith is finalized it would bring Alvarez back to the service that made an 11-fight, five-year, $365 million deal for his exclusive rights in late 2018. At the time, it was the richest deal ever given to an athlete.
But things soured when Alvarez, promoter Golden Boy and DAZN were locked in a battle over his next fight date, opponent and payment. Eventually, Alvarez sued Golden Boy, company CEO Oscar De La Hoya and DAZN in September for $280 million, the remainder of money left on his deal.
After a failed attempt at mediation and with the sides at a stalemate they reached a settlement – details were not made public – on Nov. 6 under which Alvarez would become a free agent with no more obligations to DAZN or Golden Boy and vice versa, although Golden Boy and DAZN remain partners on the promotional company’s events.
DAZN’s other boxing promotional partner is Hearn, who had been negotiating with Golden Boy for a fight between Alvarez and Smith before the lawsuit. While DAZN was willing to accept Smith as an opponent it refused to pay the $40 million license fee it would have to give to Golden Boy under the contract, $35 million of which was to go to Alvarez.
Now, with Golden Boy, whom Alvarez has had a very poor relationship in recent years, out of the picture, his team can deal directly with Hearn on the fight.
If finalized, Smith (27-0, 19 KOs), 30, of England, would defend his WBA super middleweight world title for the third time against Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs), 30, of Mexico, who holds the WBA’s secondary 168-pound belt.
Another source told BoxingScene that there has been some discussion between Alvarez’s team and Premier Boxing Champions chief Al Haymon about a three-fight deal that would return Alvarez to pay-per-view that would have included a fight with IBF super middleweight titleholder Caleb Plant.
Hearn said his talks with Alvarez are only on a fight with Smith at the moment rather than a multi-fight deal. However, if the pairing worked out Hearn might be able to deliver DAZN the fight it has wanted all along, a third showdown between Alvarez and middleweight titlist Gennadiy Golovkin, (40-1-1, 35 KOs), who also works with Hearn and is two fights into a six-fight, $100 million deal he signed with DAZN in March 2019 in large measure to get another fight with Alvarez.
Alvarez, who has won titles in four weight classes from junior middleweight to light heavyweight, has said repeatedly that it was important to him to fight again before the end of this year. He has been out of the ring since last November, when he moved up two divisions and knocked out Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round to win a light heavyweight world title, which he vacated soon after.
Alvarez has fought once previously at AT&T Stadium, also against a fighter from England. On Sept. 18, 2016, Alvarez knocked out Liam Smith in the ninth round to win a junior middleweight world title before a crowd of 51,240, the largest crowd the stadium has attracted for the handful of boxing events it has hosted.
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.